ATB Demand May Not Reach New Maximum Mintage
Earlier this month I was surprised when a friend of mine told me he heard the mintages for the 2016 5-oz. silver America the Beautiful coins had been increased, according to someone who contacted the U.S. Mint about the issue. So I made an inquiry to the Mint.
On February 3 I received this response from Michael White in the Mint’s Office of Public Affairs: “The current authorized mintage limit for both numismatic and bullion 2015 America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Coins for Shawnee National Forest is 150,000 coins. An announced mintage limit of 30,000 coins has been set for the America the Beautiful Five Ounce Shawnee National Forest Uncirculated Coin. However, based on demand, the United States Mint may mint and issue more than the minimum of 120,000 America the Beautiful Five Ounce Shawnee National Forest Silver Bullion Coins so long as the United States Mint does not exceed the 150,000 coin limit.”
There seems to be some confusion within the numismatic media about this change since I have seen reports stating that the mintage for these coins has been increased to 150,000 coins, which is not accurate. It is only the authorized maximum mintage that has been increased to this amount, which does not in itself mean that many coins will be produced.
The key point is that demand will determine how many coins are minted. Depending on the level of demand, we could see mintages much lower than 150,000 for the two versions of each coin.
In fact, I suspect that only one 2016 release in this program has a chance of reaching this level of demand and that is the coin that will honor the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which will be released in October.
Collectors are concerned that minting so many coins will dilute the value of the 2016 issues, which will be true if so many coins are actually made.
But since this series began in 2010, only two coins, the 2011 Gettysburg and Glacier National Park coins, sold enough to reach this level with sales of the bullion versions were 126,700 plus 35,000 of the “P” version, or 161,700 total for those two issues.
Last year, for example, no bullion coin in the series sold more than 45,000 coins and the “P” versions have been averaging a bit under 20,000, so it is not clear why the Mint decided to raise the max to more than twice the level of sales of any coin since 2011.
Perhaps it is because they are eager to sell more silver coins given the months-long delay in the release of the 2016 American Silver Eagle proof coin while the Mint re-tools its dies to add the 30th anniversary edge inscriptions.
Collectors have reacted positively to the 2016 designs, and the series seems to have picked up steam over the years. But with silver prices rising and many other coins coming from the Mint this year that collectors are saving for, I find it hard to believe there will be demand for 150,000 of any of the 2016 releases other than possibly the Roosevelt coin.
Sales of the first bullion issue of the year for Shawnee National Park have already reached 86,400 in a short period, though, so perhaps the Mint was right that there is demand for a lot more of these.
And if I prove to be wrong, and there is demand for 120,000 of the bullion coins this year, that will of course make the previous issues, especially the lows from 2012, worth even more than they are now.